I recently realized that in my posts so far, I have yet to really portray much about Nalerigu, the town where I live. I will attempt to do so now, although I may struggle, because already the things that I had thought were distinct have now become parts of every day life. I feel as if I have been here longer than I have. I feel like I will stay longer than I will. It will be hard to part with a place that I have chosen to make a home. I will miss it.

Nalerigu is difficult to find on a map, and is certainly more of a village than a town. It is about 2 hours north of Tamale, and borders the northernmost region. Those who live in Southern Ghana tend to think of themselves as elite, while viewing northern Ghanians as uneducated farmers, or hillbillies. While southern Ghana has much to offer in terms of education, industry, agriculture, and health services, the people in the north often find themselves in desperate need. The roads, or lack of roads, prevent equal spread of resources across Ghana. . It is for this reason that the Baptist Medical Center is located here. The BMC serves as quality health care for people in the north.

This is the view of the street right outside of the hospital. One of those shops is where I purchase a coke every day. Mary, the shopkeeper, has become a close friend. Her ten year old son, Ezekiel, is responsible for the shop at night, and I often drop by just to see him. There are these two toddlers that are always wandering around. They love to run up and give me hugs and hold my hands. I tried to get their picture, but they must have never seen a camera before. I’m afraid I scared them quite a bit by pulling my camera out.

Market is every third day. I am currently reading The Poisonwood Bible and I laughed when I came across this passage:

Every fifth day was market day– not the seventh or thirtieth, nothing you could give a name like “Saturday,” or “The First of the Month,” but every thumb if you kept the days in your hand. It makes no sense at all, and then finally all the sense in the world, once you understand that keeping things in your hand is exactly how it’s done…

And that’s how it is here. Except it’s every third day. I’ve been to the market quite a few times. And to be honest, there isn’t much to either sell or buy. I bought a head scarf so I could dub myself Ghanian, but I don’t think I’ll quite be there until I’m carrying a child on my back.  People mostly sell crops or textile products. Much to my suprise, Ghana does not have much to offer in terms of produce. There are no green vegetables that are grown in this area. Not a single one. Any green vegetable has to be brought up from the South, an expensive and rare occurence. So, what grows here? Yams. Yams are the staple food. Fortunately, it turns out that I like yams. The diet here consists of starch and soup. Either yams and stew or rice and stew. That’s pretty much it. While it may taste fine, the lack of fruit and vegetables certainly contributes to the malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies we see in clinic.

As far as religion goes, I honestly can’t remember what I have shared with ya’ll so far. The northern area of Ghana has a strong Muslim influence. However, because the BMC has been present in Nalerigu for over fifty years, Nalerigu itself has a strong Christian presence. So far, I’ve attended First Baptist Church of Nalerigu for the last three Sundays. My favorite part is when we go up to give tithes and offerings. Everyone takes their offering, and starting with the back row, they dance down the aisle to place their offering at the altar. You better believe that on my first Sunday here, I was the person in the aisle seat on that back row. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but found myself leading a procession toward the altar. Besides, I think the Ghanians find my dancing skills no more impressive than my friends back home. Church here is much like church at home, only I understand a little bit less. Sometimes English is spoken and sometimes Mampruli is spoken, and sometimes I’m not sure what is going on. Still, we sing hymns and then we have a sermon. A few weeks ago, I finally realized that we were singing “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” only the rhythm and tune had been slightly adjusted to encourage more dancing and clapping. It was great!

Well, to be honest, I’ve been waiting to post this for over four days now. The electricity has been out a lot more often here, and the internet has failed to cooperate. There are many evenings when I am excited to share with ya’ll, and then am unable to. Just know that I am so grateful for your friendship and interest and am writing ya’ll every chance I get. Hope all is well on your side of the Atlantic. I’m leaving you with the view from my backyard…